This Friday, the Wilmington Hammerheads hope to get back into the game with a home match against the Richmond Kickers.
Right now, my feelings for this match are fairly torn. On one hand I have a good feeling, because come on. It’s Legion Stadium. It’s home! We even have a chant, “we never lose at Legion Stadium”. And we haven’t for quite some time. The Hammerheads are coming off of a rough weekend with a good amount of rest under their belts and are hopefully hungry to show what they’re made of and grab a win. It’s only three games into our season and I’d like to take the road of optimism.
On the other hand… the Hammerheads are still coming off a rough weekend. The fans are feeling a bit trepidatious lately; like a timid young puppy exploring a big new world, anxious about being whacked on the snout with a rolled up newspaper. (Or a red card. Or a devastating loss.) Can we get excited and get our hopes up? Will our team be able to solidify and perform strongly against the Kickers? We will unfortunately still have Nicholson and Nicklaw out due to their weekend red cards; they received two and three game suspensions, respectively. I personally think this is a load of crap, mainly because the players on the receiving end of these challenges both continued to play the game with no issue after the penalties were given. I would obviously understand if there were injuries, people getting carted off on stretchers, or even coaches bringing out that magical can of cold aerosol stuff to spray on a leg. But nope. Up and kept going, playing like champs for the rest of the match. And I’m not giving any offense to the LA or Phoenix players at all – it’s just that a multi-match ban for a red card that didn’t much affect the other player seems a teensy bit strict. So what gives? The USL PRO thus far has been very card-heavy this season. Deserved or not, I can only hope that as the season goes on that there is some modicum of consistency in the suspensions for red cards, otherwise I’m going to call bullshit.
Anyway. Moving on.
Right now Richmond has played 3 games this season, the same as the Hammerheads. They opened with a scoreless draw against the Riverhounds, but then proceeded to kick things up a notch by wailing on the Charleston Battery and Rochester Rhinos in two 4-1 wins in a row. Being able to pull something like that against a high quality team like Charleston is no easy feat. (Sorry, Rochester. You’re not doing so well, so it kinda makes sense there.) At any rate, our team had best be prepared for a fight on Friday. Hopefully we’ll see Gareth Evans return to our back line to give us some much-needed support. We will also hopefully see the return of Cody Arnoux to the field after a hamstring setback early on. However Richmond has a lot of returning faces this year, along with the likes of Casey Townsend on loan from DCU, who made such a big difference against Charleston. This club will be no pushover.
We need this win at home for multiple reasons. I’m hoping our boys have it in them to let bygones be bygones and continue to make Fortress Legion just that – a stadium that visiting teams loathe to play at. We’ve come back from despairing situations in the past; we can do it again. I’m apprehensive, but I have faith.